Being embedded: A way forward for ethnographic research

S. J. Lewis, A. J. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At a time when ethnography (as both method and methodology) is seen to be ‘at risk’ from strictures placed upon it by ethics approval procedures and the like, it is increasingly valued by the wider, non-academic community. This is particularly true of organizations involved in processes that aim to effect change (social, cultural, behavioural), and individuals who are, like the ethnographers, trained and encouraged to be reflexive practitioners. Based primarily on a case study of research with a new public health organization (Fresh: Smoke Free North East), we propose an approach to ethnographic practice which we term ‘embedded’ (but which others may choose to describe as collaborative) as a means to securing the future of ethnography. We identify the key elements of embedded research, whilst arguing that its fundamental value still derives from the ‘traditional’ principles of participant observation and ethnographic fieldwork.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-416
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2011


  • ethnography
  • embedded research
  • collaborative research
  • participant observation
  • immersion fieldwork
  • reflexivity
  • reflexive practitioners
  • tobacco control
  • public health


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